In early October, the following video was making its rounds on the internet.
Many people expressed their sadness over the impending death of a young, newly married woman as a result of an aggressive form of brain cancer. I watched the video and was brought to tears as well- not over the story of an early death, but from the incredible display of love that Brittany’s mother exudes for her daughter. Her compliments and words of admiration and the deep love that is evident from her tears strikes me so greatly because they are in such opposition to any of the words or feelings expressed by my own mother. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have that kind of support- that kind of backbone- in one’s life. And my emotions only intensified when she talked about their plans for “meeting” on Machu Picchu after Brittany passed. Despite the fears her mother feels by the thought of making such a journey, her willingness to fight through them in order to fulfill her promise to her daughter and to have the chance for this spiritual connection rips me apart.
Brittany made the decision to move to Oregon, where she would be allowed to die at a time of her own choosing under the Death With Dignity Law. She announced that she had chosen the date of November 1st to pass- several after her husband’s birthday.
Here is her written story:
At the end of October, Brittany released a second video in which she stated that it is possible she will continue to live after that date, depending on how she is feeling and that November 1st was more of a goal than a deadline. She also responded to the numerous people who criticized her choice of ending her life before the cancer took it for her. One of these critics was Philip Johnson, a 30 year old Catholic seminarian, also suffering from brain cancer, who calls Brittany’s decision “anything but brave.”
I could not agree more with Brittany’s feelings regarding “whatever THEY”VE decided is best for me.” No one has a right to impose their opinions about what someone else should do with their life. We must respect our own feelings, our own truths, and our own personal experiences. Each of us has the right to decide what is best for our own selves and for our own lives. I love what her mother has to say about this. ““It’s not my job to tell her how to live. And it’s not my job to tell her how to die. It’s my job to love her through it.” (How extraordinarily powerful!!…) Debbie Ziegler, Brittany Maynard’s mother, is a woman who displays an enormous amount of love, strength, and integrity. I hope that the world will listen to and learn from her wisdom and poise.
Brittany did decide to end her life peacefully, surrounded by her family and close friend, on Saturday, November 1st. She leaves us with an important reminder: “The reason to consider life and what’s of value is to make sure you’re not missing out. Seize the day. What’s important to you? What do you care about? What matters? Pursue that. Forget the rest.”
May you rest in peace, Brittany. You have most certainly left behind a tremendous legacy.